“I do not find in myself the power to be happy merely by doing what I like. On the contrary, if I do nothing except what pleases my own fancy I will be miserable almost all the time. This would never be so if my will had not been created to use its own freedom in the love of others.” -Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island

Flying Hungarians

Did you know that Hungarians can fly? No really, they do. This evening, I’ve been reviewing one of our Hungarian language lessons and thought I’d share a little linguistic nugget. The Hungarian word “száll” means “to fly.” Here’s how the word is used (in conjunction with pre-verbs) in everyday life:

“Az ember az autóbuszra utról száll fel.” Word for word, this means, “The person the bus onto street from on flies up.” In plain English…”The person flies up onto the bus from the street.”

“A fiu leszáll az autóról.” Which means, “The boy flies down from off of the car.” We would say, “The boy gets out of the car.”

“A negyes villamosról a hatas buszra száll át.” This means, “He flies off from the number four villamos over onto the number six bus.”

Hungarians just like to fly everywhere. Why not?

Want to see Budapest from Space?

Here’s something really really fun to check out. It’s called “Google Earth.” Go to earth.google.com and download the program. Once you’re in the program, put “Budapest” in the top left box and hit enter. You might want to buckle your seat belt though. If you’d like to see our apartment building, put “47 34 51.96, 19 02 20.04” in the box instead and press enter.

This is a fun way to see the world through satellite imagery. Be sure to try the zoom in, zoom out, and tilt functions!


You may recall from our New Year post that a goal for Laura and me in 2006 is to read through the Bible together. I’ll occassionally write something about this…something that we’re learning and are thinking about. We’re in the middle of Genesis now, and I’ve been learning some things from Abraham’s life.

When Abraham and Sarai were very old, too old to have children, God told them that they were going to have a baby. And they laughed. And I probably would too. (Genesis 17:17; 18:12) I’ve been thinking about how faith begins and grows. And I’ve enjoyed the following thoughts from F. Buechner about this laughter:

“Why did the two old crocks laugh? They laughed because they knew only a fool would believe that a woman with one foot in the grave was soon going to have her other foot in the maternity ward. They laughed because God expected them to believe it anyway. They laughed because God seemed to believe it. They laughed because they half-believed it themselves. They laughed because laughing felt better than crying. They laughed because if by some crazy chance it just happened to come true, they would really have something to laugh about, and in the meanwhile it helped keep them going.” (Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking)


This morning Péter and I had a nice run around Margit sziget (Margaret Island) which is located in the middle of the Danube near the center of Budapest. I’ve been to Margit sziget several times, but this was my first time seeing the entire island.
What a respite. Margit Island is an oasis of calm in the midst of the hustle and bustle of this city. It’s about a 5 kilometer run beside the trees and the river. Living in Budapest, you don’t experience a lot of nature, and I think Budapestians take advantage of what the island has to offer.

As we approached kilometer #2, I looked West and saw the location of Péter’s office. At kilometer #2.5, we took a break by Margit Bridge and enjoyed the view of the Parliament and Pest. And at kilometer #3.5 we saw a small zoo full of goats which I’m looking forward to showing our boys.

Thanks Péter for showing me the island! Here’s a couple links related to Margit sziget: map, visitor guide, Margit sziget athletic center

Duke Basketball in Hungary

Well, I had to say something. At this very moment our sport channel (SportKlub) is showing a Duke vs. St. Johns college basketball game!!! This game is showing courtesy of ESPN2 apparently. The Hungarian commentator isn’t quite as enthusiatic as Dick Vitale. I can’t understand anything he’s saying, but I assume his comments are fairly neutral.

Oh! J.J. Redick just scored another three pointer.

A few weeks ago we happened upon an episode of Andy Griffith one evening. Wow. It was kind of sureal. It took us a couple minutes before realizing how weird it was to see Andy Griffith on TV in Hungary. I wonder just how many Hungarians were watching.

johari window

In 1987, Kouzes and Posner did some extensive research in preparation for their book entitled The Leadership Challenge. In this research they asked what characteristics people find most admirable in leaders. There were only four traits which received over 50% of votes: honest, 87%; inspiring, 68%; competent, 58%; forward-looking, 71%. Other research has also shown honesty to be the runaway winner and the most valued characteristic in a leader.

People can intuitively sense honesty and authenticity. It’s a matter of being “real.” This “realness” breeds a culture full of grace, truth, common purpose.

The Johari Window gives a nice picture for how honesty and feedback can grow in a person or culture. Each of us posesses qualities which are either public (top-left), private (bottom-left), blind (top-right), or unknown (bottom-right). The public window pane contains things about me which are know to myself and others. The blind window pane contains things others know about me, but which I don’t know about myself. It’s sort of the “spinach in the tooth” or “bad breath” window. The private window pane represents things I know about myself but which others don’t. These are the skeletons in the closet. The unknown window pane represents things about me that neither I nor others are aware of.

The very simple thought is that honesty and openness to the input of others are pathways to authenticity…which is a powerful thing. It’s the growth of character. It’s common sense really, but it can be easy to forget and hard to practice.

Global Perspective

Here’s a great resource for those of you interested in global issues. Maplecroft has developed a series of 35+ interactive maps related to social, economic, political, and environmental issues. Just a few of the specific issues covered in these global maps include poverty, hunger, coruption, child labor, inequality, water, R&D, education, displacement, and natural disasters.

One of Maplecroft’s stated goals is: “Our goal is to build a map that both ourselves and our partners consider is accurate, always up to date and meaningful, thus ensuring those who use the Global maps have a greater understanding of each relevant issue – how it impacts business and society, the nature of risk and how that risk might be managed proficiently – with recent case studies to demonstrate how risk is transformed into opportunity.”